Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How do I tackle the menace of strangers making mobile calls on speakerphone?

19 February 2022

9:00 AM

19 February 2022

9:00 AM

Q. As if it wasn’t bad enough to overhear one side of a conversation as it’s bellowed into a mobile telephone, there is now a worse menace on trains and in restaurants. Those using the speaker function for calls are creating intolerable noise pollution because others nearby are forced to overhear both the tinny caller from down the line and a voice raised to compensate for the distance between mouth and microphone. Mary, have you got any idea how to tackle this?

— L.G., Fosbury, Wilts

A. If you record a 30-second snatch of the conversation on your own smartphone (using the ‘voice memos’ app or similar) and then use the speaker function to play it back, this will unnerve the offender. They will usually come to their senses immediately and have the courtesy to move away from their unwilling audience.


Q. The village cricket season is imminent and with it comes a perennial problem. My club team has been going for 50 years. Inevitably a few no-hopers join. They are tolerated if they amuse. However, we recently had one who was both useless and nasty (he negotiated his match fee if he didn’t like the sandwiches). As chairman, I was asked to get rid of him. I suggested he was too old, that he risked injury in the field; but he said that I was even older and certainly more useless. Eventually we told him to clear off, which caused offence. This problem is going to reoccur. How can I get rid of someone who doesn’t respond to the normal hints, like dropping him down the order and fielding him at long stop?

— Name and address withheld

A. It seems that narcissism-related incivility is now widespread, even in the gentlemanly world of cricket. The experts advise that for team spirit to remain intact, a hardline policy must be implemented at the first sign of insubordination. If examples need to be made, so be it. Word must get around that those who query the decisions of the selector(s) run the risk of being asked to terminate their membership. This should put an end to the nuisance.

Q. I have been invited to a high-profile social event — with the warning that for reasons of privacy guests will be asked to hand in their mobiles to the cloakroom and these will not be recoverable until we leave. We can’t even go back to the cloakroom to check for messages during the evening. I’m not used to being parted from my mobile and this rather insulting diktat means I won’t be able to relax in case some emergency crops up. What do you suggest?

— I.M., London

A. Why not take a lead from some of the high-profile guests who will be present and leave your mobile with a trusted confidant who can monitor your messages and — in a genuine emergency — go to the event and ask for you to be summoned.

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